Alex Febles said he could not tell if they were tears of joy or sadness. Either way, they fell down his face in the immediate aftermath of his Ida Baker Bulldogs defeating South Fort Myers 15-14 Friday night.
“I was in tears when we won,” Febles said. “I played Pop Warner with a lot of them, so I was friends with a lot of them.
“We made history.”
These Bulldogs did make history, and they prevented it as well.
Although Ida Baker will not be postseason-bound this year because of a 30-27 loss the previous week to fellow District 6A-11 rival Fort Myers, this Baker team became the first in school history to defeat South Fort Myers. Both schools opened in 2005.
Ida Baker also prevented South Fort Myers from becoming the 15th team in Lee County history to attain a 10-0 regular-season record.
“We’re the only team on this side of the county or that side of the county to beat that team,” Ida Baker coach Brian Conn shouted to his team in the aftermath. His team improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in District 6A-11 competition.
South Fort Myers fell to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the district but already had clinched the district championship. The Wolfpack will open the playoffs in two weeks at home, playing host to Barron Collier.
“We worked on keeping the kids up all week long,” South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead said. “Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.
“This game is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. If you don’t do what you’re assigned to do, you’re not going to do very well.”
Asked if they had not already clinched the title if his players would have been more focused, Redhead said: “I’ve been doing this for 16 years, and I can’t figure out kids’ heads. We had a great week in practice. That’s the disappointing thing.”
A 2-point conversion run by Febles in the second quarter following a 45-yard fumble return by Baker senior Jeremy Betts proved to be the difference.
South Fort Myers senior kicker Conner Kammerlocher missed field goals of 41, 39 and then a 49-yarder midway through the fourth quarter, any of which would have clinched a victory.
South played the fourth quarter without starting quarterback Anthony Dailidonis, who took a shot to his stomach and complained of pain.
Redhead said not having a certified athletic trainer on hand, he erred on the side of caution in benching Dailidonis.
Redhead deployed senior Jayron Kearse at the Wildcat quarterback spot to success, as he scored on a 59-yard run and had a 43-yard run that set up his 5-yard touchdown run.
But with less than 70 seconds to play, South sophomore quarterback Keith Smith, also filling in for Dailidonis, was intercepted by Baker junior Tyler Iverson, who was covering Kearse.
“It was for the seniors,” Iverson said of his pick. “I knew they were going to throw. I knew I had to pick him up. It was coming right to him.”